Love Thy Country

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“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Gordini

I came across this quote today and was caught up in a whirlwind of memories of anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, and anti-American sentiment.  A nostalgia of hatred for my country was relived in one sentence.  I used to hate my country.

It all started in college.  I had been abroad once before, but it was more of a spectator sport rather than the real deal.  In college, I had a professor who opened my eyes to other cultures.  I explored Latin America and ventured my way to Spain.  There I stumbled my way into various European cultures and formulated my general despise for the States.

What I hated was ignorance.  I saw the United States – or even my old self – as an ignorant body void of the cultures of the world.  The US was a bully who didn’t care for other ways of life and explicitly showed this through its political agendas.  The US in fact destroyed cultures through globalization and intense acculturation.  I had all sorts of reasons to dislike my home land.

I carried this sentiment for a while.  It was not until I learned to accept who I was that I began to see the beauty of my home.  Yes, maybe all of these negative qualities existed and the US really was the global antagonist.  Maybe all the negative claims I made were true.  What started my journey to finding the positive was accepting the negative.  It was from here that I could really enjoy the wonderful culture my country had to offer.

Freedom is so often thrown around meaninglessly, but I have seen places where freedom is taken for granted.  When I speak of freedom, I do not mean freedoms promised by the government but rather the freedom of thought.  This type of freedom is established in the confidence of a population’s right to creativity and a voice.  Although this voice may often times be suppressed through jargon and politics, it is nevertheless there.  Many places in this world lack a strong voice.  America does not.

I also fell in love with opportunity for personal growth.  I have come to enjoy so many enlightening ways of life in the states.  Of course, one could choose a diet of hamburgers while living life on the sofa, but one can also choose any spiritual practice under the sun, a vegan diet, and a life of accomplishment.  The US is a place of choice and even though there exists a universe of negative options, there still exists a choice.

What I think Gordini was alluding to was that the traveler who hates his country in fact hates himself.  The transformation into a higher level of consciousness begins with acceptance.  In this case, I had to accept all the parts of both myself and my country to find out what it was that I loved about them.

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